Throughout January and February, 13 sperm whales found themselves stranded along the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein, and while heart failure due to mistakenly venturing into the shallow North Sea has been ruled as the cause of death, the medical examinations turned up a harsh reality after a very unsettling amount of indigestible plastic waste was found inside four of the whale’s stomachs.
Investigators were quick to note that there is no evidence that the plastic played any role in the whales washing up onto shore, but it is believed that it would’ve been a cause of major health problems down the line.
“These findings show us the impact of our plastic society”
In one of the whales, its stomach contained the remains of a 13.5-foot-long by 4-feet-long crab fishing net, the remnants of a sharp-edged plasticizer and the plastic cover of a car’s engine compartment.
“These findings show us the impact of our plastic society,” Environment Minister Robert Habeck expressed in a statement after learning of the findings. “animals inadvertently absorb plastic and other plastic waste, suffer from it, in the worst case, some starve to death at full stomachs, which is an urgent reminder to tackle garbage in the sea intensively.”
In the first few months of the year, Germany was not alone in finding these sperm whales along their North Sea coast. Collectively, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK have had 30 sperm whales, both dead and alive, wash up along the shore.